1970 — 1979 Ceramics Myers School of Art, History of Ceramics Program, Myers School of Art AkronMyers School of Art Ceramics Program
Larry Calhoun was hired to teach ceramics. Larry allowed Donna Webb, who was still a student in the MFA program at the University of Michigan, to work in the studio during the year 70-71. Michael Vatalaro was among those in Larry’s first advanced class.
Advanced Ceramics included Mike Vatalaro, Peg (Averill) Kerr, Scott Zaher.
Advanced Ceramics: Mike Vatalaro, Peg (Averill) Kerr, Scott Zaher.
Advanced Ceramics: Mike Vatalaro, Peg Kerr, Scott Zaher, Jean Appleby. Michael Vatalaro, later to become chair of the ceramics department at Clemson University produced a document while he was a student of Larry Calhoun titled “Some Costs for Setting up a Pot Shop”. His total was about $1200.00 which included bricks and “good carborundum shelves” for the kiln he would build, a wheel, clay and glazes mostly all from local suppliers like AP Green, Cedar Heights Clay and Standard Ceramics Supply.
Larry’s students built a gas kiln in the kiln room in Schrank Hall in 1971-72.1
Jean Appleby traveled to Greece.
Mike Vatalaro and Ron Desmett began a pottery studio in Michael’s parents’ basement on Dan Street. They were joined in Jan 73 by Jean Appleby. The pottery moved to Peninsula, OH in 1974.
Donna and Tom Webb moved into Carol Kuruc’s house on Granger Road in Medina. Along with Patrick Powers, Jude Powers and Carol Kuruc, they started the artists coop, The No Harm Dirt Farm.
Larry’s students’ had a sale of their work in the ceramic studio. This may have been the first student pottery sale.
Mike Vatalaro had a one person show at the Akron Art Institute. Jean Appleby graduated with a BFA with an emphasis in ceramics. Donna built an oil burning kiln at the No Harm Dirt Farm on Granger Road in Medina.
Jean Appleby attended Penland, a crafts school in North Carolina. The participants lived in a large log cabin and shared the workload.
Mike Vatalaro began graduate school in ceramics at Alfred University.
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Steve Bayliss became head of the Art Department.
Jean Appleby and Ron Desmett opened their pottery studio and shop in Peninsula, on the corner of Riverview rd. and rt. 303. They built a 70 cubic foot gas kiln in what used to be an auto repair shop.
“A big influence on me was Larry Calhoun who taught me ceramics at Akron U. He gave me the insight that being an artist is not a 9 to 5 thing but a life-style and a way of looking at things”.1
Orianna Webb was born. Donna had a studio called the Bike Pottery above the Bike Shoppe in Medina.
Claudia Zeber opened her ceramic studio in Spictertown. Michael Martell worked in her studio also. Claudia and Michael later married and moved their studio to its present Furnace Street location.
During the winter quarter, Larry Calhoun gave the following glaze assignment:
Students were to make a total of fifteen tests of required glazes, such as
“reduction copper red glazes cone 9-10 on stoneware and on a white body, oxidation copper reds with silicon carbide, cone 9 oxidation, cone 4 copper blues with oxides of copper, lithium and barium. A lead base cone 06 glaze with copper and alkaline, cone 06 glaze with copper and alkaline glaze with barium and copper cone 06. Completion of assigned glaze test and firings will constitute 1/3 of your grade for the quarter. GLAZE POWER!”
Though Larry did not receive tenure he had an impact on a number of students. Larry’s students included:
Peg Averill (Kerr)
“Larry Calhoun generated great energy amongst his students, bringing out their confidence and talent”
— Mike Vatalaro, 2007
Larry Calhoun and Ron Desmitt had an exhibition of their ceramics along with Neil Frankenhhauser who showed his paintings The exhibition, titled Sandwich was held at Ray Packard’s Gallery at 933 W. Exchange. That year the Davis Gallery hosted: Ceramics Invitational: Ceramic Sculpture, Functional Ceramics and Production Pottery by seven Ceramists from the Northeastern United States: Jack Earl, Ed Eberle, Val Cushing, Jacqueline Rice, John Roloff, Robert Turner and Paula Winokur. The Davis Gallery, named for Dr. Emily Davis was located on the north side of Exchange Street, just west of Schrank Hall South.
In January, Donna Webb taught her first ceramics class as a part time faculty at the University of Akron. It was Ceramics I on Monday and Wednesday evenings.
“I remember being so nervous that I considered getting into my car and driving away instead of going in to teach the class. Throwing was part of the class offering. Five people took the class for 5 credits and nine people took the class for 3 credits.” — Donna Webb
Frank Batey monitored the studio on Tuesday and Thursday. Terry Dike monitored the studio on Thursday and Thursday evenings.
In 2006, Larry wrote about his time at the University of Akron,
“Energy, Optimism, Great Work Ethic, Ambition, High Expectations: That is what I remember about the students we had at Akron U. in the 70’s. Remember the Rubber City Art Association? Organized by the students- the first clay & metal exhibition at the Massillon Museum? Students accepted into the Cleveland May Show? The Butler Regional exhibition? The Columbus Museum Annuals? Mike V., Jeannie A., Scott Z., Peggy A.,
Karol K., Mary, and Donna W.?
I remember a young group of faculty who were wonderful teachers and excellent artists: Tom Webb & Chris Meyer in sculpture, Bruce & Denny in graphics, Charlotte Hanten, Jim Lenavitt and especially Neil Frankenhouser, all contributed to the explosion. What a time it was. “ONE COULD DO WORSE THAN BE A CLIMBER OF BIRCHES” (Robert Frost).”
—Larry D. Calhoun (Larry Calhoun’s work can be seen at: http://www.irtc.net/~vilarts )
Steve Bayless served as chair of the department.
Donna Webb taught Ceramics I. Frank Wessinger, Connie Morris, Michael Conley and Woodrow Nash took Studio Problems in Ceramics from her.
Woodrow, Jay Ess and Sharon Johnson were the studio assistants. They worked a combined total of 40 hours per week.
Kathleen Ricks began as the full- time ceramic instructor. Kathy was very organized and soon the studio was running in a clean and efficient manner.
Students were asked to supply their own clay in the form of a 50 pound bag of Cedar Heights Gold Art Clay. The clay was purchased from Eagle Ceramics on West 9th in Cleveland or Ohio Ceramics Supply in Kent. The bags were stored in South Hall and were used to make the class clay. The cost ran from $3.50 to $5.00/bag. Several students purchased their clay together to get a group discount.
Winter quarter 1977
Kathy taught Advanced Ceramics, Ceramics II and a Ceramics I class. Donna taught Ceramics I. The quarter began January 3. The prerequisites for Ceramics I were Introduction to Sculpture, Drawing I and 2 D Design. Elvina Ellis took Studio Problems in Ceramics.
Kathy taught Advanced Ceramics, Ceramics II and a Ceramics I class.
Donna taught Ceramics I as well. The quarter began March 28.
Elvina Ellis, Charles Murphy, Don Desmett and Frank Batey took independent study in ceramics from Donna. At that time Elvina was also teaching full time in the public schools. Joyce Suris was the student assistant in ceramics. Kathy Ricks wrote: “Joyce has been working a 40hr/wk for me. She is a good worker”.
Donna taught Ceramics I and Ceramics II
Wheel inventory reads: 3 Brents, 2 CI’s, 3 Oscar Pauls, 2 Soldner kick wheels, 1 Randall Kick Wheel, 3 “washtubs” (treadle wheels), 3 stand up electrics.
Metal-smith Bill Neumann took over as chair of the department.
Kathy taught Advanced Ceramics, Ceramics II and a Ceramics I class
Donna taught ceramics I also.
Warren Wolf became chair of the department.
Students had a Pot Sale in the ceramics studio in Schrank Hall South. The sale flyer read:
“Room 111 (right across from Mitch’s Lounge on E. Exchange St.) Take the elevator up to the first floor and follow the signs to room 111. Parking is available off E. Exchange St. The students will be “firing” kilns and giving pottery demonstrations while you browse—a workshop happening: All the activity make you hungry? Refreshments and baked goods will be offered, too: Proceeds go to finance the fast-growing ceramic program by purchasing new equipment. THERE WILL BE A VARIETY OF POTTERY AT VERY REASONABLE PRICES. Christmas is coming.” From 8 am till 10 pm.
Kathy taught Advanced Ceramics, Ceramics II and a Ceramics I class.
Donna taught Ceramics I also.
Ken Little gave a workshop.
Warren Wolf was chair of the art department.
Donna taught Ceramics I and II
Department Chair, Warren Wolf sent a memo to the faculty on the subject of the Student Fee System:
“The follow-up on the development of the student fee schedule developed by chair William Neumann and the faculty during the 1976-77 academic year, and approved in 1977-78 follows. On the first day of class each student should be advised that he/she is not officially enrolled until he/she presents to the instructor an receipt for payment of the fee. The fees are to be paid at the Cashier’s Office in Spicer Hall and the instructor is responsible for checking the student off the class roll.
Ceramics I, II and Advanced Ceramics $15.00. All Studio Problems taken in the above areas will carry the materials charge of that area.”
Ceramics had the highest fee of any of the areas.
Fall of 1978 Jean Appleby began the MFA program at Edinboro State College.
Ken Little and Jack Earl had an exhibition in the Emily Davis Gallery.1
In January (winter quarter) of 1979 Kathleen Ricks deposited $903.00 in an account for the Potters Guild at the University of Akron. This was money the students earned in their holiday pottery sale.
Kathy created the initial plan for the new ceramic area to be built in what was to be Folk Hall. It started with a clear description of the studio as it existed in Shrank and South Halls. It specified the electrical requirements, present equipment and the additional equipment to be purchased, described the main work areas and those for clay processing, glazing and the kiln room.
Irving Achorn was Chair of the Planning Committee for the new building. Though he was a photographer, Irving’s background in ceramics made him helpful in supporting an especially workable studio for the ceramics area.
Mary Maxwell graduated with a BFA with an emphasis in ceramics. She applied for graduate school and was accepted at Kent State University to study with George Sacco in fall of 1979.
Donna taught Cer I
Michael Martell took Studio Problems in Ceramics from Donna. On Tuesday May 1, Michael’s senior show opened in the Guzzetta Hall Atrium.
Donna taught a three week course in the History of American Ceramics. The slide collection in ceramics was very small. Garth Clark sent along the slides of images that would be included in his upcoming coming book, A Century of Ceramics in the United States. These formed the basis for the class. George Sacco lent his entire ceramic slide collection from Kent which was duplicated for our library. In one year the collection was increased ten fold. The collection was added to yearly thereafter. When Vanessa Smith became the student lab technician in spring of 1985 the collection began to become organized and well documented under her careful and consistent hand. No one else ever took such care again until Niki Brown took the entire slide collection and scanned it for digital presentation in spring of 2006.
The University went back to the semester system.
Kathy taught Advanced Ceramics, Ceramics II and a Ceramics I class.
Fall of 1979 Donna taught Ceramics I
The following was written in regards to a visiting artist workshop
“The Potter’s Guild will require a check (in the amount of $625) to be made out in the names of Robert and Paula Winokur. They are visiting artists giving a workshop/presentation to the Ceramics students of the Art department on Thursday November 1, 1979. This check will be given to them at the completion of their presentation and will cover their fee of $325.00 and reimbursement of plane fare of $300.00 An additional withdrawal in the sum of $250.00 will be necessary to cover expenses of meals and to aid in purchasing non-alcoholic refreshments to be used at the official opening of their show at the Davis Gallery and at a party given in their honor after the opening.”
Jim Sheppard helped with this. Bob Winokur asked for a tape recorder, two carousel projectors with same size lens and something to dry pottery with (fan or drying box).
The following is the text from a program given in the art department:
Fall of 1979
Invocation by Don Harvey
Introduction to Tom Morin, Our New Department Head
Intermission and Surprise
Mox Nix Expanded Arts Group:
Karen Beal, Amy Bozin, Joe Hoffman, Melanie Kenngott, Maria Reidelbach, Jim Sheppard, Russ Tapaszi,
Instructed and advised by Marcia Sweet Kohn
Performance Music by DEVO
The following memo was written in regards to the 3rd Annual Christmas Sale:
To all faculty from K. Ricks
Third Annual Christmas Sale.
Please announce to your students: The Potter’s Guild will once again sponsor a Christmas sale of art and craft objects. The sale will be held in the ceramics studio, Schrank 111 between 10 and 6 pm. Those students who may be interested in participating should contact Jim Sheppard or me before the end of the week. We expect good quality work and if the student works with the Guild on any of the many chores necessary in putting the sale on, the commission will only be 25%. If the student is unable to aid, the commission will be 50%.